Cursiefen wins maiden gold, Hyo doubles up at junior Worlds

21/04/2024

Germany’s Clemens Cursiefen and South Korea’s Hyo Kyeong Kwon were the respective victors from the men’s sabre and women’s epee at the 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Under 23s World Championships in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Sunday (21 April).

All of Sunday’s action can be watched back at wheelchair fencing’s website, alongside live results. Pictures are also available here.

It was Cursiefen’s maiden international gold whilst Hyo went out with a bang, retaining her title at her last junior competition.

The twenty-year-old German went toe-to-toe with India’s Pabitra Sahu, two years his senior, in a dramatic sabre final.

Cursiefen was riding high after securing his place in the final with a win over Brazilian defending title holder Kevin Damasceno. Sahu meanwhile came to the clash fresher, having received a bye to the semi-final where he beat South Korea’s Phoopa Sae-Sim.

That could have been why Sahu was able to carve out a lead against Cursiefen, forcing him to execute a stunning comeback from 13-9 down.

The German landed four hits without reply from the Indian, bringing the scores level. A furious exchange then ensued as the pair battled for the win. Cursiefen took the lead before Sahu levelled the scores at 14-14. It was Cursiefen who had the edge in the end, but there was little in it.

After the match, a surprised and delighted Cursiefen said: “I don’t really know. I can’t believe it,” The last points…I don’t know what I did. It was what I trained and I cannot really say what I did.”

Cursiefen also commented that the sabre is not even his first weapon, and he has high hopes for the coming days in the epee and foil.

Despite just losing out on gold, Sahu was delighted with his silver – his first podium having made his international debut at the World Cup in the same city in December last year.

Damasceno and Sae-Sim were the bronze medallists.

Clemens Cursiefen of Germany removes his fencing mask
Credit: SPADT

In the women’s epee, Hyo showed her quality and experience to win her second and final junior epee gold.

Hyo has featured on the World Cup podium for the last two seasons, making her breakthrough in 2022. The South Korean bought that track record to bear on Thailand’s Aphinya Thongdaeng in the final.

Thongdaeng was not easy to overcome however, bringing her first World Cup medal from January this year to the table as a rising star of the Thai team.

The final score was 15-9 but neither women can be discounted as they both prepare for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“I had my own expectations and they were quite different from it but I still managed to win the gold so I am happy,” Hyo reflected. “This competition is my last time I can compete in the under 23s so I wanted to wrap it up with a gold medal.

On her aims for the Paralympics, Hyo concluded: “My goal is to win the gold medal of course but my real goal is to enjoy the competition.”

Hyo Kyeong Kwon of South Korea throws her head back and brings her hand to her face in joyous rapture
Credit: SPADT

Hosts Thailand enjoyed two podium finishes as Arirat Saisin joined Thongdaeng, taking bronze. NPA’s Aleksandra Iliminskaya completed the medallists.

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Under 23s World Championships continue on Monday with the men’s foil and women’s sabre. The competition concludes on Tuesday with the men’s epee and women’s foil.

The 2024 Wheelchair Fencing Asian and Oceanian Championships then get underway on 24 April as fencers from across the regions go for medals and qualification points for Paris 2024.